Web Rant about Cookie Banner
In web design we are faced with the dilemma that in the area of cookies and tracking everything is currently rather vague and unclear. We live in a time of upheaval. No proper laws in Germany yet, GDPR silent, EU-ePrivacy not coming for now, no well understood rulings so far, no clear announcements. What next? More helps more? Some contemporaries from the consulting industry are stirring up quite a panic right now, roughly threatened or with “risk models”, and then immediately offer their “solution” on the web, of course with costs and as a subscription.
Many industries make a (pretty good) living off of data protection, it’s a goldmine apparently. Sure they like to verbally upgrade there instead of downgrade. Sometimes you don’t even know anymore whether some external consultants are on the side of their clients, or whether they are running the maximum program in anticipatory obedience out of self-protection. Anyway, we got suspicious when a client’s privacy officer requested the installation of a clunky content-overloaded cookie banner (the in-house commercial solution, of course), even though only two cookies were measured: the temporary WordPress session cookie (necessary) and the one this cookie banner set itself.
Now there is news from the EU-country Denmark: The authorities there (authorities love forms!) can’t seem to make the new cookie-opt-in banner big enough to be able to set exactly which rights I want to release in order to finally be able to read the noodle recipe I am looking for:
The article recommended above (Feb. 2020) also references the Privacy Paradox: We users care about privacy and are suspicious of Google, but we don’t want to deal with it, not over cookie banners and not questioning whether the permissive use of Google Chrome, Google Android, Google Alexa, Facebook, Facebook WhatsApp, Facebook Instagram, Amazon, China-WeChat, etc. is really such a fabulous idea.
A dilemma is also that a web user often has to make decisions about cookies, but doesn’t even know if it’s worth the time and mill, because the website he’s looking for is hidden behind the banner. Maybe the pasta recipe is terrible. Why then always slam such a banner in the face of the user. It’s dulling. Above all: how should the user learn to distinguish important from unimportant, if really bad approvals are smuggled in, like the user tracking of his favourite muddy site by dubious advertising networks. When there’s “drama” at every website, you overlook the real danger and eventually just quickly click the green “OK” button, as if rehearsed.
For Otto normal user the banners are in any case often only annoying. There are already ad blockers that will block the cookie banner as a “web nerf” if you wish. Please do not misunderstand: We find privacy a very important issue, we are suspicious of the depth with which Google, Facebook and Co. identify and measure users, and fight very hard for improvements. But what good is a privacy tool like a cookie banner for the cause if it has no acceptance.
People: come up with better solutions, don’t implement the first unworldly proposal with brute force, fines and penalties, and gamble away all the sympathy of those affected by “forced pandering”. We are curious to see how this will develop further and how close to reality legislators and courts will behave.
Just how tricky the situation is becomes clear when you do a fun Google search for “data protection commissioner”. That’s where the experts… With the found providers one finds then all variants, the overloaded cookie banner, the plain old “info” banner, but often also no cookie banner at all. Since all of these websites use at least content management, at least SESSION cookies are present. So there is not even unity and clarity in the industry and in their own concerns.
And another blog operator looks at how the industry giants are doing at the moment, after all cookie banners are not yet German law and concludes: “Panic is not on the cards! Scare tactics yes!”:
A first ruling by the BGH is expected in May. We hope for Common Sense – please don’t listen too much to lobbies and battle cries or we’ll turn the web into one giant form.